Think about the purchases you have made recently. How much were you influenced by the reviews you read?

Recommendations from family and friends and online customer reviews carry more weight than ever today as people grow tired of traditional marketing tactics and would rather hear from fellow consumers.

BrightLocal found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.

According to HubSpot research, 60% of consumers find online reviews trustworthy and read them when trying to make decisions. Read on to find some strategies for generating positive customer reviews.

1. Have different avenues where customers can leave reviews

Customers should be able to learn about you from many online sources, even if they haven’t yet visited your website. This is where third-party review sites can be of great benefit.

• A study by BrightLocal found that Facebook and Yelp were the most trusted sites for customer reviews. A business Facebook page helps consumers to find out more about your business without having to leave social media. Both Yelp and Facebook reward high levels of responsiveness from businesses, so it’s important to make sure someone monitors and responds to incoming messages.
• Using Google My Business helps you to attract customers with a free Google listing which appears when people are searching for a business like yours on Google Search or Maps. People can leave reviews, which appear in the search results for your business.
• If you’re an Amazon seller, it’s important to customize your Amazon page, highlighting product details, reviews, and testimonials.
• The Better Business Bureau is a trusted site for reviews for customers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Becoming accredited on this site can add to your credibility and increase trust.
• Using industry-specific review sites, such as TripAdvisor and OpenTable, can be very effective. Choose a review site popular within your industry and make sure details such as your contact information, website URL, key offerings and hours are available.

2. Make it as easy as possible

Customers should be given quick and easy avenues for posting reviews. Even people who have the intention of sharing feedback tend to give up if it’s too difficult.

• Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so that potential customers conducting research from their mobile phones can easily access and leave reviews.
• Use streamlined templates for e-mail and mobile review requests, to make the experience a pleasure.
• Select one or two of your most relevant review sites and point customers to them via email.
• If you want reviews on your Facebook page, send your request via Messenger.
• If customers purchase from your Amazon store, send a follow-up email saying something like “As a small business, we need your help to share what you feel about our products. We encourage you to share your experience to make the Amazon marketplace more useful and transparent for all”.

3. Ask at the right time

Don’t be that annoying company that keeps sending emails begging for feedback. This alienates the very people you want to write reviews. If you approach customers at the right time, they will be much more inclined to write a good review.

• Take advantage of social media likes and mentions. If the customer is taking the first step and showing a positive response to your brand, ask for a review.
• Ask when customers reach a milestone, such as three or more purchases or spending a certain amount of money.
• Ask after an upgrade to a membership program.
• Ask after a customer referral.
• Ask after a customer has a positive interaction with customer service.

These are just a few of the signs that a customer is happy enough with your products or services that they would write a positive review.

Using an open-ended question in an email subject line is another tactic used by some companies to start a conversation that leads to a request for a review. They may ask “How is your hair responding to your new super- moisturizing shampoo? Your feedback is very important to us. Let us know how you are doing.”

Duolingo, a language-learning app, gives users a prompt to leave a review in the store straight after completing a lesson or achieving a milestone. Other companies take longer to ask for a review – customers may be requested to write a review a few weeks after receiving a purchase from Etsy or Amazon – this gives them time to experience using the product before writing the review.

4. Respond to every single review – even a negative one

A recent study by Harvard Business Review discovered that when businesses respond to all reviews, even negative ones, their overall ratings improve. Mistakes can happen, and customers may leave negative reviews about your company on a third-party site. This helps in building your firm’s online reputation management.

The way you respond will tell other customers a great deal about your company. The worst way to respond is to be defensive. If you deal with the issue in an empathetic way, your angry customer may just become one of your strongest brand advocates.

5. Share the reviews you’ve already received

Make sure that in addition to requesting new reviews, highlight and share the reviews you’ve already received. This helps to keep the momentum going and inspire other customers.

• Mark a review as helpful on the third-party sites you use – this moves it up so more people can see it.
• Share positive reviews on your social media channels.
• Format positive reviews as quotes for Instagram.

Concluding Thoughts

The fact of the matter is that your customers can turn out to be your best marketers. If you manage to get 50 or more customer reviews, it can also increase your SEO search rank by as much as 50%, according to research. Getting reviews is well worth your time and effort. It makes your business easier to find and more credible to people wanting to make a purchase or find a service.